It provided a unique platform for the convergence of diverse minds working with different aspects of mental health services and target population
United Way of Delhi, in partnership with the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (NIMHANS) and the Office of the Principal Scientific Advisor (PSA) to Government of India, organised “Svasti: A National Consultation on Charting a Roadmap for Mental Health Services” at NIMHANS, Bengaluru. The consultation brought together senior mental health experts from academia, government, private sector and civil society with the aim of sharing current scenarios, experiences and recommendations to strengthen mental health services across various levels.
Svasti is a Sanskrit word that means “may it be well with thee”. Aligned with the aim the consultation was successful in deliberating on various challenges in providing access to affordable mental health services to the most vulnerable and marginalised population. It provided a unique platform for the convergence of diverse minds working with different aspects of mental health services and target population. The first half of the consultation focused on challenges in access to and quality of mental health services with special focus on women, children, youth and informal sector workers. The second half of the consultation focused on challenges and recommendations around mental well-being aimed at strengthening policy implementation with special focus on understanding emerging focus on technical and technological interventions.
Dr Pratima Murthy, Director, NIMHANS, speaking about the consultation said, “A National Consultation on Mental Health, Svasti, was conducted by United Way Delhi, in collaboration with the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences and the Office of the Principal Scientific Advisor, Government of India on the 28th of March 2023. Svasti included four panel discussions on pertinent matters related to mental health and charting the way forward with regard to ongoing challenges in the field. Panelists and moderators from different areas of expertise came together to make policy recommendations, suggestions to de-centralise provision of mental healthcare services and changing the existing narrative to include more user-friendly and family-centric approaches that would help in making mental health more equitable, accessible and approachable to all.”
“Mental health is a critical issue in India, affecting 10.6 per cent of the population. The pandemic has highlighted the need for mental health care, with individuals facing emotional distress. Technology is providing support and resources for those in need. It’s important to recognise warning signs and disseminate information about mental illnesses. Emerging technologies offer flexible and tailored mental health support, lowering barriers to accessing care and providing insights into wellbeing. From smartphone apps to predictive analytics and immersive therapies, these innovations have the potential to be a game changer for mental health care. Digital pills and AI-powered symptom tracking further enhance patient outcomes, while consumer neurotechnology and VR tools can effectively treat anxiety, phobias, and PTSD,” added Dr Sapna Poti, Director Strategic Alliances, o/O Principal Scientific Adviser, GoI.
“At United Way Delhi, we partnered with NIMHANS and the Office of the Principal Scientific Advisor to Government of India to organise the National Consultation: Svasti, which brought together key stakeholders and experts in mental health with the aim of creating a roadmap for affordable and accessible mental health services in India. The event was successful in highlighting various challenges in accessing mental health services and was able to consolidate specific and general recommendations from panellists to bridge service and convergence gaps for most vulnerable population. At United Way, we are committed to support the government in realising the comprehensive vision, values and principles of National Mental Health Policy 2014 and Mental Healthcare Act 2017,” said Sachin Gowalkar, CEO, United Way Delhi.
The consultation also covered topics including creating non-clinical spaces for mental health, empowering decision-making in women, addressing mental health issues in the unorganised sector, empowering families as central to mental health policies, leveraging technology in mental health, and normalising mental health conversations through workshops and offline data collection applications. Roll-out of e-Sanjeevani 2.0 and Tele MANAS were also discussed.
The event received overwhelming support and participation and concluded with a commitment to implement the roadmap for mental health services in India, which would contribute towards creating a positive and supportive environment for people with mental health issues. United Way Delhi, NIMHANS, and the Office of the Principal Scientific Advisor to Government of India expressed their gratitude to all the experts and participants who attended the Svasti national consultation.